IF evidence were needed as to how far the legend of Scottish racing driver Jim Clark stretches, look no further than the entry list.
This coming week, hundreds of rally crews will descend on the Borders for three days of racing on the same country lanes where a young Clark learned his driving trade. Among them are future world champions from Finland, seasoned campaigners from Yorkshire, and first-timers from just a few miles down the road wondering if they will be able to follow in Clark’s footsteps.
One crew stands out in the ‘home town’ column of the entry list, though – Adam Spence and Erin Kelly, hailing from Sydney and Brisbane respectively.
A crack team in the Australian ‘targa’ closed road racing series, Spence and Kelly are keen to see how they measure up against the current stars in the British Rally Championship – a series that has been a proving ground for some of the greatest names in rallying history. With the Australian targa events being contested on closed asphalt roads, the Jim Clark Rally seemed the natural choice for the duo’s introduction to British rallying.
However, the crew are under no illusions about the magnitude of the task in front of them. Narrower roads, night driving and unfamiliar tyres all lie ahead – not forgetting, of course, the famously unpredictable Borders weather. The Aussie pair will also be swapping their usual steed, a turbocharged Renault Megane, for a high-revving Honda Civic Type R.
“I’ve been looking at the stages quite a lot, and to say they are different to the Australian roads would be quite an understatement. They are so, so different. The roads I have seen are extremely narrow and unforgiving in terms of run off areas and will put much more demands on the navigator to get calls out pretty rapidly,” said Spence.
“In Australia the roads are primarily far more flowing and wider. The average speeds I am used to would be higher, but I am totally realistic that the Jim Clark is going to be a very steep learning curve for both myself and Erin.
“Saying that we are really excited about being here at the event, to be honest.”
Spence and Kelly will be running as car number 27 on the Jim Clark Rally.